Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Faking It

As my best friend, whose moving vehicle I once jumped out of to get to the hospital for imagined toxic shock system can confirm, I have been known to check myself into the ER unecessarily from time to time. My first clue that I was just freaking out should've been the fact that I was able to run to the hospital, but in my panicked state, that little nugget of wisdom escaped me. I ran up to the front desk, out of breath.

"What are you here for?" a bored-sounding nurse asked.

"I ... I think I'm dying!"

"Well then. Take a seat. We'll call you when we're ready."

One hour later I realized that the shakes that had, ironically, incited me to risk my life to get to the ER had subsided, and that I was perfectly fine. But once you check yourself in, there's no going back. No matter how hard you might try to convince a nurse that you're OK, once you sign those admission papers, someone needs to at least poke you a little before you can go home. So I waited another two hours until a bored-looking doctor finally came in to check on me. These people obviously did not fully grasp the concept of the emergency part of emergency room. All I'm saying is that a little sense of urgency would've been nice.

"What seems to be the problem?" he asked, looking at his nails.

"Um ... I think I may have toxic shock system. You see, my toe has this cut that hasn't healed, in like, a week, and tonight I got the shakes for no good reason at all and ..." Even I, actually saying the words out loud, realized the ridiculousness of it all. The doctor seemed to be amused by my self-diagnosis.

"Well, I'll examine you and see what's shaking. Ha!" I managed a weak laugh and prayed I wouldn't be charged extra for the comedy routine.

The doctor's "examination" turned out to be me breathing in and out deeply and a light up my nose. I was happy that nothing was wrong with me, well, in the physical sense at least; however, my friend was hoping that after three hours of waiting in the hospital for my lame ass, they'd find something that required meds.

That, of course, was nothing compared to the day I thought I had appendicitis. Despite what you may be thinking, I am not a hypochondriac. I just have an unfortunate WebMD habit. I was sitting at my desk at work when I suddenly felt a sharp shooting pain in my lower abdomen. I immediately logged on to WebMD, which of course I had bookmarked. Hmm ... a sharp pain in the lower-right abdomen (type, type, type) that is preceded by a dull ache a little farther up (typity, typity, typity) in conjuction with nausea (more furious typing) ... Aha! Appendicitis! Son of a bitch. And it's Friday too. Oh well, this shouldn't take long. I mean, how long can it take to remove an appendix? Two, three hours? I got up from my desk and calmly told a coworker that I had to go but would be back soon.

"Where are you going?"

"The ER."

"The ER!"

"Yes. I have appendicitis. Don't worry, though. I should be back in a few hours to finish that report." And off I went, leaving a very puzzled-looking marketing manager in my wake.

When I got to the ER, I filled out the paperwork--something that at that point I could've done with my eyes closed--and waited. And waited. Two hours later, a young nurse came to take my blood. With a needle that looked like it had been custom-made for Shaquille O'Neal.

"You going to stick me with that?"

"That's the plan."

"Well I'm going to need some juice and cookies. Apple juice is preferable, thank you. Oh, and I'll take animal crackers over graham. Unless they're the cinnamon kind."

The nurse looked at me like I had just requested a neat martini with a twist of lime and a back rub. "Oh you're not even getting water after this, honey. You might need to get more tests done and that would upset the results."

What?! No cookies! This was a sham. "But I have low blood pressure! I'll faint! You know what? I'm actually feeling pretty good right now. Heh. All a big misunderstanding. I think I'll just ... Ahh!" The bitch plunged the needle deep into my arm as I was getting up to leave, and I swear she was smiling as I jerked and twisted on the table, convinced that I had been done in by Mass General Hospital.

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, my pain had subsided. Once again, I found myself, abandoned on the side of the hall on a stretcher no less, in the ER with no emergency to speak of. I was beginning to think I needed to check myself into the mental ward instead. An hour later, a cute doctor came to check me out. And not in a good way. He pushed and prodded and told me what I already knew--probably wasn't appendicitis if I wasn't feeling any pain. Aside from the sharp pain of embarrassment, that is. Relieved, I said I'd be on my way now. But alas, that was not to be.

"Oh no. We need to wheel you up to get an ultrasound. Just to be safe."

Safe? I had just been attacked by a psycho vampire nurse looking to suck me dry. I had no patience for safe.

Before I could get a word in, two male nurses had grabbed my stretcher and started rolling me, feet first, up to the fifth floor and into a dark room where they dropped me off behind a curtain.
The nurse at the station asked where I was feeling pain, and even though I really wasn't feeling anything at that point, I decided since I was already there, why not check out that dull ache I'd had for years I always thought was a tumor. Never let it be said I don't get my money's worth at the ER.

Eight hours after I'd first checked into the hospital, I was finally, mercifully released with a clean bill of health, and I noticed I'd gotten a text from my boyfriend asking me what I was up to. I was very tempted to tell him I had just been at the hospital getting an ultrasound, but restrained myself as I didn't want to have to go back to the ER for causing my boyfriend to go into cardiac arrest. I am an evil person just for thinking such a thing, I know. I should probably have that checked out.